Type: City Break, Weekend Break
Best Date to Visit: May- Aug
Things to Do: Museums, Cycling, Nightlife
Points of Interest: Anne Frank House, Van Gough Museum, Rijksmuseum, Dam square, Vondelpark, Jordaan, Royal Palace, Oude Church, Bloemenmarkt, ect
The Good: Countless attractions and point of interest, City is Walkable
The Bad: Very busy, smell of smoke nearly in many places.
Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands situated in the province North Holland. Although everyone has always seen Amsterdam as the capital city, it was only officialised in 1983. Its name was formed due to its past of being a fishing village behind a dam protecting them from the river Amstel. Today it is unofficially dubbed as “Venice of the North” because of its numerous beautiful canals of which are also registered a UNESCO world heritage site.
I have always been eager to visit this city as there have been many different perceptions and angles to this city. So I wanted to experience the city for myself and give my own view of what its like to visit this city.
Let’s Explore Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a small city but with a haven full of attractions and points of interest. Although in my opinion a busy 3 day – 2 night stay is enough to roam the capital a longer stay wouldn’t result into boredom as with some places I have visited. I believe the city is best experienced walking as the inner city itself and its attractions are (if able) walkable, that said the trams are another method to observe the city whilst travelling and conserving energy. There are so many places to visit in the capital and I didn’t have the chance to see everything, so here are the places I visited and my perception of the city.
World Class Art
Firstly I believe the main places to go whilst in the capital are its art museums. Most notable of them are the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum which are both situated in Museumplein or Museum square. The Van Gogh museum is an exhibition dedicated to the famous Dutch painter’s work, most famous are the Sunflower 1889, the potato eaters 1885, his self portraits and so much more. Whilst the Rijksmuseum is dedicated to both Dutch art and history. Pieces of art include that from artists such as Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and many more. Most of the museums in Amsterdam require tickets which can be bought on the day or online.
Another Highlight and Iconic place to visit is the Anne Frank house, which is the home of the German born Dutch Jewish diarist famous of her documentation of her experience of the German occupation of the Netherlands from 1942 to 1942. The house which has been protected and converted to a museum. The museum itself exhibits the diary, drawings and pictures, the small, tight corridors and steep steps which gives a true experience of what those times was like. However note, you can only visit here with a pre booked ticket with a time slot and there is no way to buy a ticket on the day. I did see many disappointed tourists hoping to enter the house trying to buy a ticket on the day, so don’t get caught out.
The Adult Section
Now it is no secret that one of the largest magnetism for the capital is its Red Light District and the Coffee Shops which are world famous for getting legal highs. Although this area should be for adults, there is no barriers or signs and I have seen families with children roam around these areas. I visited this area both at day time and night (just a walk around) and I can say although the area operates 24hours it is much more busier and rowdier at night. For those who just want to walk around and learn about the place then there are walking tours which will be highly informative about its history. Museums have been erected to support these cultures, including the Red-light Secrets museum, Sex Museum, Weed and Kemp Museum, and others.
Quite surreal, right in the middle of the Red light district is the Oude Church which is a monumental place as it is the oldest building and monastery in the city. However today it is a place for contemporary art. The huge talk of this church is its location residing next to windows with sex workers, Coffee shops and a school.
…theres something for everyone.
Dam Square is another popular area tourist go. This is the location for the Royal Palace, the National Monument, Madame Tussauds and an arcade of shops. The town square which is also popular for the city’s events is usually the meeting place for many free walking tours so keep an eye out if you are looking to join. In my opinion this place is a good place to chill, unwind and rest or if you are travelling in a huge group a good meeting point.
Vondel Park is Amsterdam’s largest park popular with residents and tourists, many jog, cycle, dog-walk or on a sunny day lay and chill. Attractions within the park include the statue of Dutch poet Joost Van Den Vondel, music dome, Groot Melkhuis and many others.
Another place I happen to pass-by which I believe is an outstanding place to visit is the Bloemenmarkt which is the worlds first and one of few floating flower markets in the world. Trading from Monday to Saturday this colourful flower market sells different flowers and souvenirs. A popular place for tourists and locals.
Canals All Around
After all the above the highlight and main beauty of the city for me is the canals, dubbed the Venice of the north Amsterdam has some of the worlds most charming canals where plenty relaxing bars, restaurants and a myriad of boat tour operate. I advise to take one of these boat tours which will take you through the scenic areas, you can either take a basic, private or party tour, there are so many different operators to choose from.
… and everything else
There are many other attractions within the city that I haven’t mentioned including Jordaan, Heineken Experience, Body World, Rembrandt house, Nemo Science Museum, A’DAM Lookout being just a few of them. I didn’t visit these as I didn’t have the time to do so, however these are highly rated and recommended areas to visit whilst in the city.
Overall I think Amsterdam is a powerful, attractive city which is misinterpreted as being a place for adults and parties only. Ok, its nightlife, red light district and marijuana coffee shops are huge attraction for interested tourists however the city shouldn’t only be defined for these. The canals really did take the main stage for me and defined the city more than any other aspects of the city. It has a huge number of museums and attractions and I can honestly say a short weekend trip is not enough to fully experience what the city has to offer.
Thanks for reading…
Reference: Photos that aren't mine: Red light district from not4rthur Vondel park from Dguendel